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Sunday May 4, 2008No. 12 USC Takes Series Over No. 22 Baseball, 9-6

Columbia, SC

A four-run fifth inning helped No. 12 South Carolina (33-15/13-11 SEC) overcome a 5-3 deficit on its way to a 9-6 triumph over No. 22 Florida (28-18/13-11 SEC) in Sunday’s rubber game at Sarge Frye Field. The Gamecocks have now captured eight of the past nine series between the squads and improved to 8-1 versus the Gators in series on their home turf.

 

USC clubbed three homers, as senior Phil Disher was a perfect 4-for-4 and junior Justin Smoak (game-tying two-run homer in fifth) scored three runs and drew three walks. Senior Nick Godwin (5-2) worked 5.0 innings to pick up the win and freshman Parker Bangs struck out freshman Riley Cooper (Clearwater, Fla.) with two men aboard to end the game for his second save. For Florida, junior Avery Barnes (High Springs, Fla.) was 3-for-4, senior Bryson Barber (Pensacola, Fla.) (2-for-4) belted a two-run homer and totaled three RBI and Cooper went 2-for-4 with his second homer. Sophomore Kyle Mullaney (Jacksonville, Fla.) fell to 0-4 after allowing three hits and two runs in two-thirds of an inning.

 

The Gamecocks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first, highlighted by Disher’s 16th homer of the campaign. Junior Reese Havens drew a leadoff walk and freshman Whit Merrifield beat out a bunt before Smoak hit an apparent double play ball. Merrifield was forced at second for the first out but an errant relay throw by sophomore shortstop Cole Figueroa (Tallahassee, Fla.) allowed Havens to come across with the initial run and enabled Smoak to occupy second. Disher stepped to the plate with one down and cranked junior Patrick Keating’s (Harrisburg, Ill.) 1-0 pitch to left center for the three-run margin.

 

Florida used back-to-back homers in the fourth off sophomore Blake Cooper to even the score. Sophomore Matt den Dekker (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) poked a one-out single and Barber bashed a two-run dinger to bring the Gators within 3-2. Cooper followed with a solo shot to left, his second round-tripper in as many days, for a 3-3 stalemate. Sophomore Buddy Munroe (Miami, Fla.) walked on four pitches and stole his first career base, Barnes was hit by a pitch and freshman Josh Adams (Jacksonville, Fla.) earned a free pass to load the bases and force a pitching change. Godwin replaced Cooper (3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R) and had Figueroa ground out to short to preserve the tie.   

 

USC had runners on the corners with one down in the bottom of the frame, only to have Keating induce an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play by Havens. Junior Andrew Crisp started things off with a base-hit to center and took third on a flare into right by freshman Scott Wingo. Keating buckled down to have Havens tap into Florida’s SEC-leading 58th double play.

 

Barber and Cooper came through with consecutive RBI singles in the fifth and the Gators totaled four hits to build a 5-3 lead. Senior Brandon McArthur (Seffner, Fla.) led off with a single and den Dekker walked before Barber sliced a base-knock up the middle and McArthur slid in safely for a 4-3 count. After Barber was picked off first, Cooper drove in den Dekker with a single into left field to match his career high of two RBI set yesterday to put the visitors up by two runs.

 

A four-run explosion in the home part of the fifth carried South Carolina to a 7-5 lead. Merrifield opened with a single into right and Smoak sent Keating’s final pitch of the afternoon over the left-field wall for his 19th jack to tie the game. Mullaney came in for Keating (4.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R) and allowed a one-out double by Disher that was followed by a single from senior Harley Lail. Crisp lofted a sac fly to straightaway center field to score Disher and sophomore DeAngelo Mack stroked an RBI single into right field to give the Gamecocks a two-run lead. Mullaney (0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R) plunked Wingo and was taken out in favor of sophomore Tony Davis (Cooper City, Fla.). The southpaw jammed Havens on an infield fly to strand the runners.

 

Figueroa collected his seventh sacrifice fly to reduce UF’s deficit to 7-6 in the sixth. Barnes legged out an infield hit and raced to third on Adams’ Texas Leaguer into shallow center field. Figueroa’s fly ball to left plated Barnes and a wild pitch from Godwin permitted Adams to take second. The reliever had McArthur tap out to end the inning.

 

Carolina came right back in the bottom of the frame on Darnell’s 15th homer, a two-run job off Davis, to regain a three-run cushion. Smoak walked with one down and Darnell roped a four-bagger to left field. Following Disher’s fourth hit of the game, sophomore Clint Franklin (Orlando, Fla.) was called in for Davis (0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R) and kept the Gamecocks scoreless and hitless over his 2.2 innings.

 

Florida threatened again in the eighth, as senior pinch hitter Jon Townsend (London, Ky.) was hit by a pitch and Barnes came through with his third hit of the day. However, Godwin had Adams line into an inning-ending double play.

 

Down to his team’s final out, den Dekker ripped a double and Barber drew a walk. Bangs was summoned from the bullpen and caught Cooper looking at strike three to end the contest. Each team had 12 hits, with Barnes (three), Barber (two), Cooper (two) and den Dekker (two) turning in multiple-hit outings. The Gators resume action on Wednesday night when they host Bethune-Cookman at 6:30 p.m. at McKethan Stadium. The contest will be shown live on Sun Sports.

 

-UF-

 

 

 

 

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